Intel i7 5960X Review with ASUS X99 Deluxe
The question on everyone's lips (their chapped lips) is, "Is the i7-5960X of sufficient improvement to justify the expense". Perhaps the latter bit is subjective, but when it comes to 'call your momma in the room and show her how awesome this is' results, yes, it's fair to say the i7-5960X is jaw-dropping. If our jaw was left slackened any more then we'd have to change our website to Yokel3D. Largely of course this is to be expected. It's the top of the line, Extreme Edition, Intel CPU. Those usually come with magnificent performance and eye-opening price tags, and the i7-5960X is the shining example of this ethos.
Perhaps the thing we enjoy the most is that this is a comprehensive change. The move from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge to Haswell was all incremental changes. They brought a little something new, but were largely refinements. The LGA2011 when it appeared was replacing the X58, but despite the greatness of the CPUs the memory bandwidth was always pretty bad, and that had a large factor in the results obtained by nerdy types like ourselves, and the fact nearly nobody brought them. There just wasn't enough between a, for example, i7-4960X and a i7-4770K to justify the expense. That 'close enough' performance gap has been torn asunder by the i7-5960X.
For a start we have eight cores, and sixteen threads, to play with. Such is the rapid advance of software support for multiple cores we hardly came across a single title that didn't use the CPU to its fullest. The addition of DDR4 has moved what we expect good Memory bandwidth to be so far across the horizon you'll need to get in a plane to see it. The old X79 was doing well to get 20GB/s. The LGA1150 rocked at around 30GB/s. The X99 and i7-5960X with DDR4 combination regularly hit 60GB/s. Astounding.
It isn't just a case of some exciting CPUz number though. The results bore out the insane capabilities of the i7-5960X in every test. OC3D records were broken so often we decided against pointing them out because the gap between the Haswell E and its predecessor is so large that it would be akin to saying the sky is blue. The overclocking is easy, with the chip responding beautifully to even the slightest increase in available bandwidth. The soldered cap rather than the TIM of old helps dramatically too. With our Corsair H105 we saw a max of 40°C under load at stock. Yes the temperatures rose quickly with our overclock, up to nearly 80°C, but we're trying to maximise performance at a stable setting.
Now we're not stupid, we know that the i7-5960X is a pricey little number. But considering that you're getting so much more than the Extreme Editions of old but for the same near $1k price tag, the value for money is increasing dramatically. If you just want a system to game on, or write emails to your Auntie, then this is perhaps overkill. However, if you were planning to do that you're entirely missing the point. This is for the enthusiast who demands the very best and by that scale it's a bargain. For the rest of us it's a glimpse into the future. A future where DDR4, plentiful PCI Express lanes, SATA ports, USB3.0 ports and pure CPU horsepower are moving to new levels. A game changer.
We also need to thank ASUS for supplying us with the X99 Deluxe to form the backbone to this review. If you're one of those people who long for a high end motherboard that isn't dominated by black and red, or perhaps you want a motherboard rich with features but freed from the "it's for gamers" trappings, then we can highly recommend it. It performed beautifully throughout our testing, overclocked like a champion and looks the business with those white accents. There has been loads of thought put into the design, the box has so many accessories it's hard to know where to begin, and it comes complete with the ASUS OC socket, something that many manufacturers would save for one model alone and then price-gouge you on it. It's been a joy to use, and also wins our OC3D Gold Award.
Thanks to Intel and ASUS. - Discuss the Intel i7 5960X Review in the OC3D Forums